Monday 20 May 2013

Wintery Warm Vegetable and Lentil Salad

It was a weekend of colour and comfort, frustration and fixing, markets and modems.   I went to Fitzroy Market, found our modem had died*, ate a colourful vegetable salad, spent time at the park watching Sylvia climb trees, walked through piles of autumn leaves, experimented with a cauliflower pizza base and made homely golden syrup dumplings. 

Good fun was had at the Fitzroy Market.  The bbq stall had vegan vegetable and lentil soup in cups.  I sampled and enjoyed.  It was tasty, albeit not terribly filling.  The icy poles have been replaced by waffles.  I had a peanut butter waffle which was delicious.E played with the ukelele players, Sylvia climbed trees and had a mermaid painted on her face, I was amused by a Gene Simmons doll but more attracted to the sourdough loaves. 

On the home front, I had purple cauliflower.  I don't find it often.  I wished I hadn't seen a purple cauliflower while a whole white one sat in the fridge at home.  But it was too beautiful to leave in the shop.

One of my favourite radio talk back shows often has a segment called "What are the chances...?"  Here are a few of my odd coincidences and occurrences lately:
  • We are not long over internet problems due to a new internet account and then on the weekend our modem dies.
  • I ordered a book for E's birthday.  A month later I emailed the seller because the book still hadn't arrived.  An hour or two later the book arrived in the post.
  • Sylvia and I took her bike to the petrol station to pump up the tyres.  On the way home one of her training wheels fell off while crossing a road in busy traffic.
  • Would you believe that a four year old is more willing to believe that fairies turn on the street lights at nightfall than that there are electronic sensors!
  • I bought a cardigan for Sylvia that was blue because I am not really into pink.  She is fixated on a good pink cardigan.  I give up.  I decided I would just use a pink permanent marker to colour in the white flowers on the blue cardigan which is bought as a knockabout top.  Yes life is crazy!
The salad was less crazy.  Just colourful.  When we got home from the Fitzroy Market I had some of the sourdough loaf of bread with peanut butter.  We had lovely blue sunny skies at the market but once we got home the grey clouds and rain reminded us that winter is truly on the way.  I was happy to turn on the oven and roast lots of vegies.

This was a great way to clear out the fridge.  The dressing was rather tasty too.  I loved the salad and found it very satisfying.  We ate it without an bread or grains on the side.  Perhaps this was due to scoffing the fresh bread in the afternoon.  The next day I had some of the leftovers for lunch and added some cooked rice I had in the fridge.  It was lovely with rice.  Just not necessary. 

I am sending this salad to Catherine of Cates Cates for her Anyone can cook fabulous vegetarian food challenge.  The theme for May is legumes.  I considered two tins of legumes in this salad but decided to use some feta as well.  The feta gave the salad a freshness but it is not essential because there are so many other great flavours.  More beans or some walnuts would make a lovely substitute or you could just leave it out.

*I meant to post this yesterday but the internet was playing up.  We woke and found our modem was not working.  Sylvia was concerned when we said it might be the power because she had just seen a Peppa Pig episode called Power Cut.  We bought a new modem and E spent quite some time getting it working.  Then Blogger refused to load my photos!  Then today the modem stopped again.  And started. Not great when combined with a narky child and bad television reception.  Argh!  Let's just think about how pretty the salad looked!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: The University of Melbourne - historic buildings and lazy lunches
Two years ago: My ten rules for food blogging
Three years ago: Dan Lepard’s multigrain and honey bread
Four years ago: Pumpkin Hummus
Five years ago: Condensed Milk: Heirloom Comfort Food

Warm lentil and vegetable salad
Adapted from In Pursuit of More
Serves 2-3 as a main meal

Olive oil
2 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 large purple cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 brussels sprouts, halved and roughly sliced
1 large onion
400g tin brown lentils

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce

To serve:
fresh basil
black pepper

Firstly chop and roast the vegetables.  I put them in three separate trays, each with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and then I tossed to check they had enough oil to cover them.  I roasted the sweet potato for 60 to 70 minutes at 230 C until soft and charred slightly around the edges.  The purple cauliflower roasted for 40 to 50 minutes at 230 C until the edges of florets are slightly charred and it is soft but not falling apart.  The brussels sprouts were roasted for 20 minutes at 230 C - enough for the small bits to char but some of the larger slices were not quite soft. 

While the vegetables roast, heat 2 to 3 tsp of olive oil on a large heavy based non-stick frypan.  Fry the onion over medium to high heat for about 10 to 20 minutes until soft and slightly charred at the edges.

Make the dressing by shaking all ingredients in a jar (with a lid on).

I cooked my vegetables in batches so by the end some had cooled.  I mixed all roasted vegetables, onions and lentils in one of the roasting tins and returned to the oven for about 10 minutes at 180 C to warm everything through.

Once the salad was warmed, I tossed about 2/3 to 3/4 of dressing through.  I arranged chopped spinach in the dinner bowls, served salad over the spinach, then sprinkled with feta, scattered with torn basil leaves and gave a good grind of black pepper.

NOTE: my oven is slow so other more efficient ovens may bake vegies quicker and at lower temperatures!

On the Stereo:
Oak, Ash, Thorn: Various Artists


  1. I think I would feel the most lost without attachment to the internet. It is kind of our lifeline.. although it sounds like it got fixed? Btw, I learned a new word: narky!! :)

    1. Thanks Janet - I am very lost without the internet - many of my favourite recipes are there now as well as the ones I mean to make and I use it for so much information I am after. Yes it is fixed thank goodness and hope you will enjoy using 'narky' as much as I do :-)

  2. Ha, life with its crazy coincidences! Last year my laptop and my mobile died within half an hour, so I was completely cut off the world (in the middle of online data collection for my thesis, haha) all of a sudden. Grrrr. However I love your little one still prefers the fairy explanation for street lights! :D

    The lentil salad looks wonderful! By coincidence (hihihi), I've just set up some lentils for cooking, and your salad gave me a wonderful inspiration for the accompanying dinner veggies for tonight (dinner is to come in an hour or two over here). I'll use pumpkin instead of sweet potatoes and I've never gotten my hands on purple cauliflower unfortunately, but I have the white one. Oooohh, already starting drooling now! :D

    1. Thanks Kath - I feel for you with the laptop and mobile dying together (murder suicide pact?) - they always choose the wrong times! I have recently acquired a smart phone and was very relieved to have it while our modem was not working.

      Hope you tried this salad for dinner - it is fairly simple if you have time to roast vegies. And it is open to all sorts of variations

  3. Gorgeous gorgeous salad! I'me ating a waffle right now. But frozen, straight from the freezer, spread with blue cheese cream cheese. Not going to lie; it's amazing in today's 30C heat. ;)

    1. Thanks Hannah - I have very rarely had waffles and these were lovely and crunchy on the outside and soft inside - and I suspect you would find anything amazing in 30 C after your toronto winter :-)

  4. Nice. I have some root veggies growing on my balcony so this would be a good use for them. I like the inclusion of lentils (and feta).

    1. Thanks Mel - it would be great with home grown root vegies - your balcony garden is very impressive!

  5. What a pesky situation with your internet - but everything else you mention sounds delightful. What a great market, and what a great salad. Soup, waffles and climbing trees ahead of roasting vegetables also sounds like a good definition of autumn bliss!

    1. Thanks Kari - the market and salad was a good way to spend an autumn day - much more fun than running around after an internet breakdown

  6. That salad is seriously gorgeous! I want it in my life, even if spring is here!

    1. Thanks Joanne - hope you have spring days where you can turn the oven on and make sure salads!

  7. What a fabulous salad - all of that pumpkin looks devine.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I used sweet potato because I had it but I think pumpkin would work equally well

  8. Hehe I love the list of what are the chances of...! I was the same about pink, I loved everything about it and would colour my nails with texta in pink :)

    1. Thanks Lorraine - you and Sylvia are a right pair - she loves to paint her nails with pink texta too :-)

  9. Ooh, that looks lovely! And yes, purple cauliflower is officially irresistible. I can't walk past it, either...

    1. Thanks Catherine - is there anyone who can walk past purple cauliflower without an admiring glance :-)


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